Nigel Henderson, a member of History Hub Ulster, has been involved in tidying up grave plots in Belfast City Cemetery where Great War fatalities are commemorated on family memorials. Over time, Nigel noticed that weed re-growth had occurred at a number of plots that had been cleared of significant over-growth. As a result, History Hub Ulster applied to the CWGC Living Memory project for funding to make plots more permanently presentable by removing the weeds/growth, laying down weed-suppressant membrane and then covering with a layer of woodbark. Within the financial limitations of the funding, it was anticipated that six plots, all relating to men who died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, could be treated – in the end, seven plots were treated. History Hub Ulster regards this as a practical way of demonstrating remembrance. Click here to read more about the memorials.
www.belfastsomme100.com, on Facebook and on twitter @belfastsomme100.History Hub Ulster today launches it's Belfast Somme 100 September – November 2016 programme of commemorative events marking the centenary of the battles of the Somme, and the place of the Somme campaign within the First World War. Karen O'Rawe, Chair of History Hub Ulster and Belfast Somme 100 said 'The impact of the Somme on Belfast is remembered in this, our final programme of events. The people of our small city heaved with tears of grief as their young men were killed and maimed, no matter what their background. Belfast Catholic, Protestant, Jew or Quaker - all served and died together at the Somme. The close links between people can be seen in our programme of events. Follow Rifleman Willie Kerr, a young Catholic man who enlisted in the YCV in MEDAL IN THE DRAWER. See his friend, young Protestant Rifleman George Kirkwood on the big screen at City Hall as part of the CASTLETON LANTERNS Project. DR JOHANNE DEVLIN TREWE will give a lecture on the service of local nurses, like George Kirkwoods sisters Charlotte and Mary Ellen. The Kirkwoods and Kerrs were just two Belfast families who received telegrams announcing the deaths of their sons. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS takes us back to a village waiting, with dread and hope, for any news from the front. A SOMME CONFERENCE, HEDGE SCHOOL and LECTURE SERIES as well as COMMEMORATIVE events draw together all the perspectives of this centennial year and aim to enhance our understanding of the impact of the Slaughter At the Somme' The project focuses on the personalities and stories associated with the campaign and mark its place in the social and political history of Northern Ireland and pre-partition Ireland. The Belfast Somme 100 project aims to raise awareness of previously overlooked or submerged stories and personal connections that both the Somme and the events of 1916 have had with the broader history and development of Northern Ireland. The programme runs for 141 days across Belfast, the exact duration of the Somme campaign in 1916, and this Autumn it features a range of commemorative events including concerts, film, lectures, walks, exhibitions, poetry, debates, theatre, children and family activities. Highlights include: ‘Medal in the Drawer’, a play by Brenda Winter Palmer which follows four volunteers from Belfast on their war-journey; The Year of the Somme: 1916 in Perspective conference in partnership with the Western Front Association which features a ranges of local and international speakers; Artists at the Somme with the visual artists, poets and musicians at the Ulster Museum; a series of talks at the Linen Hall Library; ‘No News is Good News’ a new play Philip Orr, will form a Kabosh promenade production at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and take you back 100 years to meet the villagers who were desperate for news and awaiting telegrams from the front; a season of films at the Queen’s Film Theatre; Castleton Lanterns, refound images of servicemen after 95 years will be shown on the Big Screen at City Hall; The 1916 Centenaries, An Opportune Time for Reflection?, Hedge School in partnership with the Fellowship of the Messines Association, Battle of the Somme Centenary Concert at the Ulster Hall; and the programme culminates with a Keith Jeffery Memorial Lecture by Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. Local events throughout Belfast will continue through till the end of November. Activities will include the opening of a new memorial and lighting of a beacon at Skegoneill Avenue in November, a Somme Day Community Festival to launch Tree Tank in South Belfast, the 'Row on Row' remembrance event at Pitt Park on 18th November and a new activity and learning book on the Somme to be circulated free to schools and community centres and interactive workshops aimed at educating children and young people. The objectives of the Somme 100 project are to dispel myths and stereotypes, to promote and encourage dialogue within communities and with other communities and to create a space which allows the development of mutual understanding. Belfast Somme 100 is run by History Hub Ulster with an Advisory Panel made up of experts in the period and community leaders. It is funded by Belfast City Council. Full information, updates and ticketing is available at
Dr Ian Speller will give a talk on the Battle of Jutland and its importance in the context of the First World War and 1916. Shankill Road Library Thurs 29 September 2016 @ 6.30pm
On Tuesday 6 September from 1pm-2pm the former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie will be visiting the Ulster Museum to give a FREE lecture on “Women and the Legacy of the First World War”. When the First World War broke out, and a generation of men went off to fight, women emerged from the shadows of their domestic lives. Becoming a visible force in public life, they began to take up essential roles – from transport to policing, munitions to sport, entertainment and even politics. The talk will chart the move towards equal rights with men that began a century ago and consider what these women achieved for future generations. Places can be booked online at http://nmni.com/um/What-s-on/
The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour The original 1916 film screened with live accompaniment by the Studio Symphony Orchestra Conductor David Openshaw Somme100 FILM is an international project, working with the Imperial War Museum as part of the First World War Centenary Partnership to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The aim is to bring together 100 live orchestral performances of the ground-breaking 1916 film, The Battle of the Somme. The Studio Symphony Orchestra is proud to be providing a unique opportunity in Northern Ireland to experience this iconic film with live orchestral accompaniment. Shot and screened in 1916, The Battle of the Somme was the first feature length documentary about war. In the first three months of its release the film was seen by around 20 million people in Britain and Ireland, informing and challenging the public with its images of warfare, and changing the way both cinema and film was perceived. The film was shot by just two cameramen; Geoffrey Malins and J B McDowell. Filming took place between 25 June and 9 July 1916, covering the build-up and opening stages of the Battle of the Somme. The Battle of the Somme was filmed on the front line at great personal danger to the cameramen, and offered audiences a unique, almost tangible link to their family members on the battlefront. Contemporary reactions to the film varied greatly but most people believed it was their duty to see the film and experience the ‘reality’ of warfare. The Imperial War Museum took ownership of the film in 1920, and in 2002 undertook digital restoration of the surviving elements. A new orchestral score was commissioned from Laura Rossi in 2005. The Battle of the Somme film remains the source of many of the conflict’s most iconic images, from the ‘over the top’ sequence to the piggy-back rescue in the trenches, and continues to have great importance not only as a record of war but as a piece of cinema. Saturday 15th October 2016 at 8pm Island Arts Centre, Lisburn Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions Box Office: 02892 509254 or online at www.islandartscentre.com "And those troops in the mud grinned or stared at us to a new musical score by Laura Rossi, brilliantly effective" Geoff Brown, The Times ***** www.studiosymphony.org.uk/somme100
An analysis of the official fatality records to determine the number of Ulstermen and men from the Ulster Division who died during the Battle of Albert, which lasted from 1st July to 13th July 1916, by History Hub Ulster researcher Nigel Henderson. Summary statistics:
- Over the period of the Battle of Albert, 2129 men who were born or lived in Ulster died.
- Over the period of the Battle of Albert the Ulster Division lost 2051 men.
- 1721 men who were born in Ulster died on 1st July 1916.
- 1517 of these men were from the Ulster Division and the remainder were from 14 other British Divisions.
- On 1st July 1916, 1778 men died whilst serving with the Ulster Division.
- The Ulster Division lost 1935 men during the two days that it was in the frontline.
- Anyone born in the nine counties of Ulster has been defined as being an Ulsterman and has been classified by County of Birth (with Belfast being treated as a County).
- Anyone born outside Ulster but had a residential association with Ulster, has been classified as “Ulster – Residence”.
- In determining the analysis, it was borne in mind that Ulstermen served with units attached to British Divisions other than the Ulster Division and that not all men who served in the Ulster Division were Ulstermen by birth or residence.
- Although the dataset is based on the CWGC fatalities, the inclusion of additional information from other primary sources enhances this record of fatalities and facilitates the analysis of the data by a range of different criteria. For example, the records of Ulstermen fatalities can be broken down into regiments or divisions as well as by county and, for Ulster Division fatalities, the non-Ulstermen can be easily identified.
- Whilst it cannot be claimed that this fatality list is 100% accurate or complete, it does represent a verifiable list of the men that died in that battle and is more accurate than many of the figures that have appeared in newspapers in recent months.
The full spreadsheet is available here: http://historyhubulster.co.uk/ulster-albertMethodology:
- A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) database was executed using the following criteria: The records returned were downloaded and imported to Excel and columns were added to facilitate the recording of additional information, such as Division, Type of Death, Place of Birth and associated County/Country.
- The spreadsheet was filtered by Regiment and Units to identify and mark those fatalities associated with units belonging to the 36th (Ulster) Division. If there was no unit reference on the CWGC database records, the unit reference was identified from other primary sources (for example, Soldier Died in the Great War, medal rolls).
- The “additional information” section in the CWGC data was analysed to identify counties, towns, etc. within Ulster and the relevant records were marked to indicate Ulster connection.
- For men identified in Step 3 as having an Ulster connection, the regiments/units were examined to identify whether they had played a role in the Battle of Albert and, where appropriate, the Division number was recorded. Note: the Long Long Trail website was used to determine the Division associated with a Regiment/Unit and whether that Division participated in the Battle of Albert.
- The Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) online database was interrogated to identify fatalities in July 1916 in France where the birth location held on SDGW satisfied a number of Ulster-based criteria: Birth Location set to “Northern Ireland”, “Ulster”, specific cities (i.e. Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh) and each of the nine counties in turn. The results were used to update the master spreadsheet with Birth Location, County/Country of Origin, Type of Death and additional information (e.g. former regiment details, mainly for Machine Gun Corps fatalities). Where there was a Death Date discrepancy between SDGW and CWGC, other sources were checked to determine the most commonly held date – the details/sources of discrepancies were noted. Variations on Surname/Forename spellings and Regimental Numbers were also noted.
- For fatalities where no next-of-kin information was held on CWGC, the National Archives of Ireland Soldiers’ Wills (SW) online database was searched to identify, where a will is present, the next-of-kin name, relationship and address. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects (RSE) and Ireland Census returns were also searched to identify the name(s) and relationship(s) of the beneficiaries and the addresses of widows/parents. In checking the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, priority was given to cases where there was no Birth Location recorded on the SDGW database – there are over 950 fatality records where a next-of-kin has not yet been identified.
- The In Memoriam notices placed in the Belfast Evening Telegraph in late June and early July 1917 were trawled to identify next of kin details.
- The family memorials in the War Graves Ulster archive that specified deaths during the period of the Battle of Albert were examined to identify next of kin details.
Today marks the Centenary of the sinking of HMS Hampshire with Lord Kitchener on aboard. On 5 June 1916, HMS Hampshire left the Royal Navy’s anchorage at Scapa Flow, Orkney, bound for Russia. The Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, was on board as part of a diplomatic and military mission aimed at boosting Russia’s efforts on the Eastern Front. At about quarter to nine in the evening, in stormy conditions and within two miles of Orkney’s northwest shore, she struck a mine laid by German submarine U-75. There were at least 28 Irish sailors lost on HMS Hampshire. One of them was the ship’s surgeon, Dr Hugh Francis McNally from Belfast, son of the principal of Raglan Street Boy’s School on the Falls Road. McNally, an ex St Malachy’s pupil had studied Medicine at Queen’s University and was a member of the Queen's Officer Training Corps. He joined the Irish National Volunteers at its formation and was immediately appointed company officer. On the retirement of Captain Berkeley he was appointed Commander of the Belfast Regiment of with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. At the start of the First World War, he joined the National Volunteers. He was a magnificent organiser, and was responsible for the 1915 parade in Dublin. Newspaper reports at the time note that he ‘his name will always be remembered by the Belfast National Volunteers with the kindliest feelings’. On receiving his degree from Queen's University, he joined the Royal Navy, giving his service ‘in the cause of humanity’. His obituary notes ‘By his death a bright future has been cut short, while his loss to the Volunteer movement will be widely regretted.’ The sinking of HMS Hampshire was a grievous blow to the Allied war effort. The British Empire lost Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, whose organisational ability ensured that Britain had an army, of sufficient size, to be able to stand alongside her Allies in a major European conflict. Kitchener was a personality who was instantly familiar to all British people, both young and old, whose death was mourned as if he had been a close relative. In addition to the crew, who numbered around 650, was Kitchener’s delegation, consisting of military officers, politicians and their staffs, who also went down with the Hampshire. Only 12 men, all from the Ship’s company, survived the disaster.
Belfast City Council event with History Hub Ulster member Nigel Henderson. The lost lives of the Battle of the Somme Date: 21 Jun 2016 Time: 6.30pm - 9pm Venue: Banqueting Hall, Belfast City Hall Over 200,000 Irishmen fought in the Great War, and it’s estimated that up to 25,000 – 30,000 Irish soldiers from the Irish Divisions and others in British based Divisions died between 1914 and 1918. The most iconic Battle involving Irish soldiers was the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1 July 1916. Nigel Henderson and Philip Orr will deliver a presentation on some of those who lost their lives, focussing on the impact that this had on communities in Belfast. The presentation will also include poetry written in Ulster and in France during the period of the Battle of the Somme. The presentation will be followed by a dramatised reading of the Halfway House, which looks at two women who met in 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, hearing of the experiences of their fathers who were on different sides in 1916. Light refreshments will be served at 6.30pm. Booking is essential, email email@example.com or call 028 90270 663 to register. http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events/Event-61893.aspx
Descendants of Irish sailors are flying in to Belfast from Australia, America, Canada, Spain, GB and all four corners of Ireland for the Commemoration of the Irish Sailor during the First World War on Tuesday 31st May. The date was especially chosen as the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the most important naval battle of the First World War. "The Commemoration to the Irish Sailor is a significant all-island event, the contemporary relevance of which should not be underestimated. The event is a timely reminder that 1916 is not all about the Easter Rising and the Battles of the Somme. The sacrifice of so many men from these shores who fought at sea, the maritime war and the impact of it on our island tends to be overlooked. The Centenary of the Battle of Jutland and the launch of HMS Caroline is the perfect context to be officially recognising the contribution of all those in maritime roles on the island of Ireland in the 1914-18 period.” Irish sailors were lost on many ships across the course of the First World War including over 350 at the Battle of Jutland itself, 91 at the Battle of Coronel and 62 on HMS HAWKE. As well as Royal Navy ships, Irish men were lost on merchant ships such as MFA WHITE HEAD, a Harland and Wolff built steamship torpedoed in 1917; on HMS SUBMARINE K17 lost in an accidental collision in 1918; and on converted merchant ship HMS BAYANO, torpedoed off Ireland causing bodies to wash up along the Ards Peninsula. In 1918 at least three Irishmen were lost on HMS ASCOT, the last warship lost to enemy action in the First World War, and at least fourteen were lost on the first in 1914, HMS AMPHION. Over 1,500 Irishmen were killed in action serving at sea in the years between. Examples of local men lost at sea include: Stoker Peter Kennedy, Royal Naval Reserve, from Ballymena lost on HMS QUEEN MARY at the Battle of Jutland. Peter, a member of Cavehill Orange Lodge lived at Ritchie Street in Belfast and left behind his wife and 4 children under 11 years old. 15 year old Midshipman Gervase Ronald Bruce from Downhill, Derry, one of ten cadets lost on HMS MONMOUTH. Five more Ulster teenagers were lost; Belfast boys Stoker (2nd) John McAteer, Boy (1st) William Connell, Able Seaman William A. J. Wilson and Ordinary Seaman Herbert Kelly as well as Ordinary Seaman Henry McNally who was from Draperstown. Leading Stoker Joyce Power left young twins and a pregnant wife in Ballymena after the sinking of HMS HAWKE. His daughter Margaret Hawke Power named after the ship he was killed on. Also drowned was Able Seaman Albert Patterson Wilson whose first daughter Frances was born only 4 weeks later on 14 November. Mariette Isabella Donald was born at the end of 1914, her father Martie Donald not returning to Carrickfergus to meet his newborn daughter. The Gorman siblings from Clifton Park in Belfast lost one brother, Charles on HMS PATHFINDER in September only to hear of the death of another brother, Able Seaman James Toland Gorman, only one month later on HMS HAWKE. Sullatober Flute band from Carrickfergus who lost one of their players Henry McMurran on HMS CRESSY, 3 weeks later suffered yet another tragedy with the loss of another member, Stoker (1st class) Andrew McAllister on HMS HAWKE. Notes HMS RAMSEY is a single role Minehunter with a crew of 40 personnel. More information can be seen here http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/ramsey LÉ CIARA is a Coastal Patrol Vessel of the Irish Naval Service with a crew of 42. More information can be seen here http://www.military.ie/naval-service/fleet/coastal-patrol-vessel/le-ciara-p-42/Descendants of sailors both of the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine will be in attendance at the Commemoration at Alexandra Dock with HMS Caroline as the backdrop for the event. During the proceedings HMS Caroline will be officially opened. The Royal Navy and Irish Naval Service will stand side by side to mark all from the Island of Ireland who served at sea and wreaths will be laid on behalf of both. Senior political and military representatives from the UK and Ireland will be attendance alongside a German Naval Admiral. The ports of Ireland, Irish Lights and maritime emergency services will also gather with families of those who served, and Belfast City Council will host all attendees for a civic lunch on completion of the ceremony. Irish naval ship LÉ CIARA and British Naval Ship HMS RAMSEY will be in port for the preceding weekend and open to the public as part of Belfast’s Maritime Festival. The Battle of Jutland involved 100,000 men over the course of 36 hours in which time Britain lost 14 ships and 6000 sailors and Germany lost 11 ships and 2500 sailors. Over 350 of the men lost were from Ireland. The most significant loss of Irish life happened very early in the battle when HMS Indefatigable suffered from a catastrophic explosion of her cordite. From over 1000 crew members at least 120 were Irish. Stoker John Moriarty who hailed from Bere Island, died aged 23 years old, alongside 50 other Cork men. Gunner Lawrence Browne from Malahide was killed at Jutland on Armoured Cruiser HMS Defence, who under heavy fire from 5 German ships, violently exploded killing all of her 904 crew with no survivors – at least 98 of the men killed were Irish. Battlecruiser HMS Invincible was blown in half and sank in 90 seconds, killing all but 6 of its crew of over 1000 men. At least 34 were Irish, including 2 seventeen year old Belfast boys John McCullough and John Cleland Carlisle. Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster said:
Kabosh presents The Box, a new play by Carlo Gébler, which brings to life the archive of Olive Swanzy, a nurse from Newry who served during WW1. During her time serving in the war Olive kept a series of autograph books which the soldiers in her care contributed to with drawings, sketches, cartoons, stories and poems describing their experiences of and feelings about the war. Along with these contributions Olive also kept a record of her own experiences through a wealth of beautiful watercolours which document her time at war and her love of her native Newry. Together they form an incredible picture of real people during extraordinary times. This fascinating archive was left undisturbed in an attic in Olive’s former home in Rostrevor for decades until it was recently rescued from being destroyed and it’s worth and relevance realised. Kabosh, in partnership with Creative Centenaries, will bring this incredible archive and its stories to life in a multi-artform theatre production. Taking place at the Ulster Museum every Saturday and Sunday, 12pm and 3pm, from June 5th to 19th 2016 this will coincide with original items from the archive being on display as part of the Creative Centenaries exhibition running from June 3rd to September 18th. The Box is written by Carlo Gébler, directed by Paula McFetridge, designed by Elle Kent and features local actors; Gerard Jordan and the award winning Abigail McGibbon. Venue – Ulster Museum Dates – 5th to 19th June 2016 Days – Saturdays and Sundays Times – 12pm and 3pm Durations – 45 minutes Tickets - £5 – available online at www.nmni.com by phone on 028 9044 0000 or in person at the Museum Kabosh Artistic Director, Paula McFetridge says, ‘To uncover an archive like that of Olive Swanzy’s is a once in a lifetime find. To have someone share that with you is emotionally affirming. To be able to create theatre that tells the story of an incredible woman in extraordinary circumstances is an absolute pleasure. The Box gives an insight into the lives of real men and women whose lives were changed utterly’ Playwright of The Box, Carlo Gébler says ‘The Box is a short play about two veterans of the First World War, both Irish, Jeremiah, a British Army soldier and Olive, a nurse. The play explores the unexpected ways both were touched and crushed by the conflict, and the common cause they make post-war to help each other to manage their trauma. Theirs is the solidarity of the maimed: it is far from perfect but in the aftermath of a war, when it is the only kind going, each must take what the other has to offer and make do with that because there is nothing else available. As any veteran will tell you, in the absence of what you want, you take what you are given.’